Captain China grabs the winner

18 November 2023

Kunlun Red Star 3 Sibir Novosibirsk 2 OT

Tonight was Yipper night. In honor of our captain’s 300th career appearance for the Dragons during the week, Brandon Yip was the poster boy for the visit of Sibir. Prior to the game, we held a small ceremony in honor of one of the key men in our club. And, as befits one of the most inspirational figures in Chinese hockey, he rose to the occasion to produce an overtime winner.


Kunlun returned home after a four-game road trip that brought two wins and two high-scoring losses. Those latter two games, against high-flying opposition in Omsk and Yaroslavl, could both have gone either way and there was a sense that we deserved more than the four points we secured on that run. Today, the Dragons began to put that right.

Viktors Ignatjevs made a couple of changes. Colin Campbell replaced Alex Riche among the forwards, while Turner Ottenbreit returned on defense as Ryan Merkley took a well-earned rest. Matt Jurusik started in goal.

Jurusik had to be alert in the early stages, denying three solo rushes from Sibir forwards. At the other end, we had a five-on-three power play but could not turn that into an opening goal.

In the last minute of a hard-fought first period, Red Star got in front. Spencer Foo chased down the puck behind the net and got it out to the front. It evaded everyone on the doorstep but Kyle Wood was on hand take possession on the right-hand dot and lift a wrister after Krasotkin’s shoulder and in off the crossbar. Precision finishing from our D-man, who moves to three goals in his last four games.

That was fair reward for an enterprising first-period performance. There wasn’t much between the teams, but our guys had marginally the better of most areas of the game. However, there was clearly enough from Sibir to confirm that the game was far from over, and the visitor proved that point in the second.

The Dragons were unable to take advantage of an early power play, and in the 26th minute Sergei Dubakin drew Sibir level. Almost immediately, there was another power play chance and this time we got the puck in the net. However, a video review wiped out Brandon McMillan’s effort after identifying a kicking motion to get the puck over the line. Maybe save that one for China’s FIFA World Cup qualification campaign, which continues next week.

Unfortunately, Sibir killed that penalty successfully and went in front midway through the game when Dubakin struck again. His first goal came from a deflection off a point shot, his second was a blast that deflected off a home skate and wrong-footed Jurusik. The visiting forward ended a long goal drought earlier in the week and doubled his tally for the season in the space of five minutes.

However, the Dragons have a forward of their own who is back on the scoring trail and making up for lost time. Tyler Wong waited 33 games to pot his first goal of the season, but today he found the net for the third game in a row and moved to 5 (4+1) points from those outings. This time, he beat Krasotkin at the second attempt after some great work from Jake Chelios who appeared as an impromptu center forward to make his presence felt on the Sibir slot and open the space for Wong to attack.

That goal secured a point, and Teemu Pulkkinen was close to securing the win in regulation with a shot from close range that dinged the crossbar. However, it took overtime to separate the teams, and a minute into the extras Captain China claimed the winner. Yipper released Ryan Sproul into the Sibir zone. The defenseman’s shot was beaten away, but Brandon was always going to be first to the rebound to shoot home the decisive goal.

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